Crew and passengers will not be allowed to board a commercial flight for two weeks.

By Alison Fox
April 07, 2020

Cruise ship passengers and crew who arrive in the U.S. will no longer be able to board a domestic commercial flight, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised this week.

The Zaandam cruise ship pulls into Port Everglades Port Everglades on April 02, 2020 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Anadolu Agency/Getty

The new order applies to all passengers and crew on board, including those who are not showing symptoms at the time of disembarkation. According to the CDC, it is the cruise line’s responsibility to arrange chartered flights or private transportation home for people disembarking. If passengers or crew are sick, the CDC said cruise lines are similarly “responsible for transporting all ill or infected patients, including those who need hospitalization.”

Once people get home, the CDC says they should stay home for 14 days.

The move follows several instances of widespread COVID-19 infections on cruises, including the recent Holland America Line ship that docked in Florida and allowed passengers to fly home. 

While many cruise lines have temporarily canceled itineraries, several ships remain out at sea. In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement that as of Saturday there were 114 cruise ships carrying 93,000 crew members in or near U.S. ports and waters, 41 of which were still “underway.”

Last week, passengers were allowed to disembark Holland America Line’s Zaandam ship in Fort Lauderdale after more than 200 passengers and crew on board came down with flu-like symptoms, including four who died. Passengers who were healthy enough to travel were allowed to do so, while those with symptoms remained, according to the cruise line.

The ship was out at sea when Holland America suspended cruise departures and was originally scheduled to dock on March 21 in Chile, but was stranded in what has become a common plight

For Princess Cruises, who also paused operations but whose Coral Princess ship is currently sitting in Miami, the new CDC guidelines will slow down disembarkation. At least a dozen people have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the cruise line, and CNN reported three passengers have died (two passed away while the ship was at sea while the third died after being brought to a hospital in Florida over the weekend).

The cruise line said in a statement on Monday that several hundred passengers have disembarked and were flown on charter flights, including to Canada, and those who live in Florida were provided chauffeured ground transportation.

“Princess Cruises continues to work tirelessly to adjust the repatriation plan to meet the new CDC requirements,” the cruise line said in the statement over the weekend. “This will unfortunately result in further delays in disembarkation and onward travel for many guests as we work through this complex, challenging and unfortunate situation.”

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